A Distinguished Reader of this blog made it known to me that he thinks I don't drink enough wines. That is true but on a good night, the company more than makes up for any such defeciency. And one of the best nights was last Saturday night's gathering at Ran Shapira, the spitting image of the congenial host of good cheer, who served us a variety of cheeses, huge slabs of steaks and complimentary cigars. And the wines... I must apologise, Dear Reader, for drinking only seven wines this weekend.
Zind-Humbrecht, Rangen, Clos St. Urbain, Pinot Gris, 1995
Hmmph. I was a house-husband for two weeks while my wife vacationed in the States and got two bottles of this nectar as my booty. Sadly, bottle number one was lightly corky. Enough to bother yet at least two of the gatherers enjoyed it nonetheless, one declaring it the wine of the night. They felt the TCA yet they enjoyed what was hiding behind it: a deep, hedonistic nose, full of honey-ed fruits and minerals. Bitter grapefruit pips on the palate put some off but what length and intensity! Corky, yes, yet few wines would show this well with a good dose of TCA. Purchased for about 75 USD.
Brocard, Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains, 2003
Minerals and lemon on the nose, with a pungent, metallic note that added interest and did not at all offend. A crisp, austere palate that was like no other Bourgogne white I'd tasted or expected from a gruellingly hot year like 2003. I suspect it was harvested early at the cost of some phenolic ripeness but very promising in all. Not imported, price unknown.
Bruno Giacosa, Barbera d'Alba Superiore, Falleto di Serralunga, 2004
Live by the nose, die by the nose. Opened by Ran, the ripe, hyper-fruity nose inspired one of the guests to decrie, "Ran would've kicked me in the head if I'd brought it". Yet the palate was tannic and structured so just goes that show the nose don't tell all. A big wine, opened way too early, that despite the roller-coaster fruitiness of the nose doesn't sacrifice any varietal typicity. Imported by WineRoute for about 190 NIS.
Two beauties still awaited us.
Chateau Duhart-Milon, Pauillac, 1998
What do you want out of your Bordeaux? One answer is an elegant, classy nose of currants and ground coffee, with a touch of minerals, and a structured palate that grabs you even when it's obviously too young and murky. A young ten year old claret from an average vintage. Only a mid-level Bordeaux, it is a forbidding yardstick for local reds. Imported by WineRoute, used to sell for about 120 NIS I'm told, the price having since balooned to over 300 NIS.
Antinori, Bolgheri Superiore, Guado Al Tasso, 1998
Yes, I've read that 1998 was a better year for Bolgheri than 1997 and, uh, yup, I guess this wine would lend that opinion great weight. Overtowering its elder 1997 sibling it pays its dues to Bordeaux, but with an Italian character and flair, just compare your notions of the French aristocracy versus the Italian upper-class to get my drift. Though in hindsight, you could spot a certain Mediterranean herbal streak on the nose, I guessed Italy due to a certain curlicue expression of the acidity on the finish(I'm just rationalizing my intuition but I did guess Italy). Drinking great now, in that respect leaving the Duhart-Milon behind (on the nose the Duhart Milon has an edge), I would chance 5-10 years in the cellar but why wait? Imported by HaKerem, price unknown.
Golan Heights Winery, Heightswine, 2005
I respect this labratory icewine in good vintages and this might possible be the best. The viscuous palate might lack a true icewine's racy acidity, but it sure is delicious stuff. It has a certain toffee-like appeal, like a Botyrtis-free Sauternes, lacking only acidity to kick it off into true greatness. When you factor in its price (95 NIS), it is a no-brainer for religiously observant and secular alike.
Isn't reality boring?